June 24, 2014

When You Think Inkjet, Don’t Forget Workflow

The nay-sayers are spreading gloom and doom that print is going down. The fact is print has never been stronger. What we print and how we distribute it is changing. Since print is not disappearing, we all know that InkJet technology for print is the way to go. The Analysts have jumped on the bandwagon, the print vendors all have inkjet technologies and many have models to address the various volume duty cycles based on business needs. Some vendors are even working on cut-sheet inkjet technologies.

An added benefit in today's printing environment is that costs for color are decreasing compared to both traditional toner based color and monochrome. This adds fuel to the fire that is driving inkjet printing interest.

But for the glitter and wow, companies bringing in Inkjet for the first time usually uncover a huge workflow issue. Masked by traditional print and mail speeds, the addition of inkjet usually provides greater throughput and, with that, the need for a tighter control of the workflow as well as changes to legacy workflows in the organization.

I had the pleasure of attending the annual InkJet Summit this year held in Florida this past March. Dozens of executives from an impressive list of companies gathered to discuss inkjet technology as it relates to their businesses. One of the underlying topics was the need to inspect, analyze and adjust the workflows in order to take full advantage of the new technology. This set of actions happens prior to and, in many cases, immediately after the installation of the new inkjet technology is installed.

One of these adjustments includes the need to consolidate print streams for greater job size; a monumental task without the proper tools. Next, the large jobs need to be physically broken down to smaller jobs after print and before the mail processing equipment functions. Again, not trivial without the proper tool set.

Here is where the professionals at Crawford Technologies work with our clients as they migrate from toner based print technology to inkjet. We can help them co-mingle jobs, manage the “logos” and “letterhead” for each job to create a large job consisting of previous smaller jobs. Basically, we are talking about implementing a plain paper factory or in other words – creating jobs of the size to take advantage of speed and throughput of the inkjet printers.

The challenge is to keep track of each sub-job to make sure all the documents are accounted for. Again, this is where we assist our clients with Automated Output Management (AOM) tools to automate the processes with complete accountability. And let’s not forget, in many organizations, there are disparate Print Data Languages (PDLs) created by a hybrid of legacy systems. By utilizing our tools, our customers are able to standardize on the PDL of their choice (AFP or PDF, for example) and take full advantage of their new hardware purchase.

The path to Inkjet has a lot of upsides for companies that print High-Volume Transactional Output (HVTO) or, as many of us call it, customer communications. And with the proper tool set the process of implementing inkjet can be smooth, more economical and improve many business process and results within your organization. As an example of the positive benefits of an inkjet printer implementation, please view our Inkjet Case Study that I presented at this years Inkjet Summit.

With several decades in this business, I invite you to leave your comments below or send them to me directly.